Many of my friends have been in situations where they’re planning a first Tinder date but are unsure of what to do. Keeping in mind that they might end up not even liking the person, it’s important to find cost-effective solutions to get to know someone.
Cheap Chicago Tinder Dates
- Go to the beach.
While going to the beach is limited to the (few) summer months in Chicago, this is actually a nice, low-key way to get to know someone new. You can BYOB (at your own risk!) instead of paying an expensive bar tab. You may also get to see what your date looks like in a swimsuit. Win-win all around. For those who like to multi-task, the beach is a great opportunity to soak in the sun and play a game of beach volleyball, so that even if your date sucks, you can cross gym and tan off your list for the day (the only thing left to do is laundry!).
- Go on a picnic.
Ok, it might sound lame to you, but there are so many beautiful parks in Chicago. There’s the Chicago Botanical Garden, Millenium Park, and more. You can even visit the Lincoln Park Zoo to make it look like you really planned things out. If you’re a foodie, make some delicious sandwiches to really impress your date. Have them bring the booze. Sharing is caring (and cost-effective).
- Go on a bike ride.
Most Chicagoans already have a bike, but Divvy day passes are only $7 and are a good excuse to explore Chicago while getting a cardio workout. I highly recommend riding the lakefront path for a picturesque view of Lake Michigan. You can even tie in the picnic or beach idea if things are going well and you want to extend the date.
- Improv shows.
There certainly is no shortage of improv shows in Chicago. They make for a great first date because they help break the ice. Tickets range from free to $20 per person, but everyone has an improv friend looking for audience members (just ask!). I suggest getting your buzz on before going in (ideas for happy hour coming up!), and buying something to sip on once you get to the theater. Here are a couple solid options for improv shows:
- Go to the Movies.
No, I’m not talking about the typical expensive movie theater route. See a post I wrote awhile back about cheap movie-seeing alternatives.
- Check out a concert.
Depending on how discerning your tastes, Chicago has plenty of shows in the $10-20 range any night of the week. Another option worth looking into is Jukely, which offers “unlimited” concerts for $25/month. To guarantee a plus-one, you can pay $45/month for “unlimited” concerts for two. Jukely represents a lot of Chicago music venues, so there’s bound to be something you (and your date) will enjoy. Plus you’ll seem like a badass for having concert ticket hookups.
- Go out to eat (or drink).
Let’s talk about a unique approach to the standard first date plan. Before planning a date, check out SmallTabs, which has aggregated happy hour specials from almost 500 bars in Chicago. You can organize your options by day of the week and Chicago neighborhood.
Also worth mentioning are some cool bars that will give you an extra bang for your buck. Check out Guthrie’s to test your date’s hand at various board games. Headquarters, which has two locations (River North and Lakeview), pairs free arcade games with craft beers and specialty cocktails.
Another option for saving a few bucks your meal is to sign up for Spring Rewards. Spring Rewards allows you to be a Cheap Ass on the sly.
- Batting Cages, Mini-Golf, etc.
If the idea of getting your date hot and sweaty gets you going, consider doing something active. Sluggers tends to run Groupon deals all the time for their batting cages. And, although I haven’t personally been there, Diversey Range seems to have decent pricing for mini-golf ($10 per person).
- Art Gallery Openings.
A rather unique approach to a first date is attending an art gallery opening. This is a good way to open up and get into your date’s head. It also makes you seem cultured. Plus, there’s usually free wine.
- MuseumsArt galleries and museums? You must be a really classy date. Several of Chicago’s finest museums have free days once a week/month/etc. Check out Choose Chicago’s list that breaks down where and when to go.
So the next time you go on a first Tinder date, stand out from the crowd and do something interesting. Or at least save some money before you decide if your date is worth it.
What cheap Chicago Tinder dates have you gone on that you would recommend?